Google has unveiled an earthquake alert system for Android devices in India. Leveraging smartphone sensors, particularly accelerometers acting as miniature seismometers, the system can detect tremors in real-time.
The initiative was developed in collaboration with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the National Seismology Center (NSC). It aims to furnish early earthquake warnings to Android users in potentially affected areas, delivered in local Indian languages supported by the Android platform.
Two-Tiered Alert System
Google’s alert system comprises two levels: “Be Aware” and “Take Action”. The former issues alerts to users experiencing MMI (Modified Mercalli Intensity) 3 & 4 shaking during an earthquake with a magnitude of 4.5 or higher. This notification appears on the screen and does not produce sound if the phone is in Do Not Disturb or silent mode.
For MMI 5+ shaking during a 4.5 magnitude earthquake, the alert bypasses the device’s notification settings, including Do Not Disturb, and triggers a loud audio alert. Additionally, the notification offers safety recommendations, such as seeking cover under a sturdy object.
Swift Detection and Early Warning
Google’s system identifies potential earthquakes by monitoring seismic activity through numerous Android devices. The company asserts that its alerts often reach users several seconds before the onset of shaking.
Introduced in 2020, Google initially rolled out Android Earthquake Alerts in California. To receive these alerts, users must have Android 5 or later versions, along with active Wi-Fi or cellular data connectivity. Furthermore, location settings must be enabled on the device.
Users can activate earthquake alerts by navigating to Settings > Safety & emergency, then selecting Earthquake alerts. Alternatively, they can enable this feature through Settings > Location > Advanced > Earthquake alerts.
With this innovative system, Google aims to enhance safety measures and empower users with timely information during seismic events.